The Art of To­tal War

The beloved and scream­ingly vi­o­lent game fran­chises are cel­e­brated in print, and it's not a pretty pic­ture

ImagineFX - - Inspiration -

Au­thor Martin Robin­son Pub­lisher Ti­tan Books Price £30 Web www.ti­tan­ Avail­able Now

When To­tal War: At­tila was re­leased in Fe­bru­ary, it be­came the ninth en­try in a bru­tal strat­egy video game se­ries that’s spanned the cen­tury so far in re­lease terms, and spanned mil­len­nia in its bat­tlepacked game­play. This print cel­e­bra­tion of the fran­chise’s his­tory pro­vides a bril­liantly com­pre­hen­sive guide to how To­tal War has grown and de­vel­oped, with in­put from all the cre­ative minds who’ve worked on it to date.

On the other hand, it’s a good job that it’s worth read­ing, be­cause Ti­tan has pub­lished a mind-numb­ingly drab book from a de­sign view­point. While the game’s graph­ics take leaps for­ward, their vis­ual el­e­ments are dis­played here in a sim­plis­tic man­ner that screams ‘1998’ on ev­ery spread. Ad­mit­tedly, the true-his­tory con­cept of the se­ries makes it in­trin­si­cally less cre­ative than the likes of As­sas­sin’s Creed, but it isn’t an aes­thetic feast.

Di­vorced from the ac­tual game­play, no gen­er­a­tion of To­tal War re­ally takes the eye by storm with its art­work, and vague echoes of Vic­to­rian Ro­man­ti­cist por­trai­ture are the clos­est the ba­sic style gets to stand­alone artis­tic value.

True fans of the se­ries may well be fas­ci­nated by the game fran­chise’s evo­lu­tion. But art lovers are best warned off a pur­chase.

The Cru­sades were among sev­eral wars that fea­tured in Me­dieval II: To­tal War.

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